Fri 30 May 2014
Filed under: Ethnic Issues,Inside Burma,News
Sai Jan, a regional chairman for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), has been freed from Kengtung prison after being held for almost a month.
The politician was arrested in his home in Namt Lin Mai, Kengtung, eastern Shan State, on 5 May by the Burmese army on suspicion of having breached Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Associations Act through alleged links to the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S).
That charge, formally pressed on 22 May, was dropped on Thursday.
SNLD spokesman Sai Lek confirmed that Sai Jan would not have to face court on 2 June, as was previously slated.
“Police earlier today have dropped the charge against Sai Jan – our party officials went to pick him up and are now taking him back home,” Sai Lek said on Thursday. “We are all incredibly relieved that he was released.”
The SSA-S is the armed wing of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), a political party considered an illegal organisation by the Burmese government, despite partnership in a 2013 ceasefire.
Pitched battles have raged in Shan State between the SSA-S and the Burmese army in recent months, in breach of that ceasefire. Such battles have contributed to reluctance on the part of the RCSS to join current ceasefire talks between the National Ceasefire Coordination Team — an alliance of 17 armed ethnic groups — and the government. However the paramount reason for reclusiveness on the part of the RCSS is the inclusion of rivals, the Shan State Army-North, among the 17 ceasefire parties, say observers.
On 6 May, the day after Sai Jan’s arrest, Burmese army troops “raided” the RCSS liason office in Kengtung.